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Kiss River

Kiss River

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Kiss River

valutazioni:
4/5 (13 valutazioni)
Lunghezza:
438 pagine
7 ore
Pubblicato:
Dec 1, 2011
ISBN:
9781459280557
Formato:
Libro

Descrizione



Separated by a continent from her child, Gina Higgins comes to Kiss River with little more than a desperate plan. Now, saving her daughter depends on whether she can uncover a message buried deep below the ocean's surface.

Kiss River's historic nineteenth-century lighthouse has all but fallen into the sea, taking with it the huge Fresnel lens that once served as its beacon. Gina is desperate to find a way to raise the lens; the glass holds the key to her future, her fortune and her only chance to save the one person who matters to her.

Clay O'Neill lives in the old light keeper's house, a home he shares with his sister, Lacey. When Lacey invites her to stay with them, Gina eagerly accepts. As Gina begins her quest to raise the lens, Clay finds himself drawn to her struggle, and to Gina herself.

But the answers lie deep below the ocean. And the lighthouse holds secrets that neither Clay nor Gina can anticipate .

Pubblicato:
Dec 1, 2011
ISBN:
9781459280557
Formato:
Libro

Informazioni sull'autore

Diane Chamberlain is the bestselling author of twenty novels, including The Midwife's Confession and The Secret Life of CeeCee Wilkes. Diane lives in North Carolina and is currently at work on her next novel. Visit her Web site at www.dianechamberlain.com and her blog at www.dianechamberlain.com/blog and her Facebook page at www.facebook.com/Diane.Chamberlain.Readers.Page.

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Anteprima del libro

Kiss River - Diane Chamberlain

Acknowledgments

Chapter One

THE AIR CONDITIONER IN HER AGING CAR WAS giving out, blowing warm, breath-stealing air into Gina’s face. If she could have torn her concentration away from her mission for even a moment, she would have felt a pang of fear over what the repair of the air conditioner would cost her. Instead, she merely opened the car windows and let the hot, thick, salt breeze fill the interior. She took deep breaths, smelling the unfamiliar brininess in the air, so different from the scent of the Pacific. The humidity worked its way into her long hair, lifting it, tangling it, forming fine dark tendrils on her forehead. Another woman might have run her hands over her hair to smooth the flyaway strands. Gina did not care. After six days of driving, six nights of sleeping in the cramped quarters of the car, several quick showers stolen from fitness clubs to which she did not belong and eighteen cheap, fast-food meals, she was almost there. She was close enough to Kiss River to taste it in the air.

The bridge she was crossing was very long and straight and clogged with traffic. She should have expected that. After all, it was a Friday evening in late June and she was headed toward the Outer Banks of North Carolina, an area she supposed was now quite a tourist attraction. She might have trouble finding a room for the night. She hadn’t thought of that. She was used to the Pacific Northwest, where the coastline was craggy and the water too cold for swimming, and where finding a room for the night was not ordinarily an impossible chore.

The cars were moving slowly enough to allow her to study the map she held flat against the steering wheel. Once she left the bridge, the traffic crawled for a mile or so past a school and a couple of strip malls, and then perhaps two-thirds of the cars turned right onto Highway 12. She turned left and entered an area the map identified as Southern Shores.

Through the open car windows, she could hear, but not see, the ocean on her right. The waves pounded the beach behind the eclectic mix of flat-topped houses, larger, newer homes and old beach cottages. In spite of the slow-moving stream of cars, the Outer Banks seemed open and wide and empty here. Not what she had expected from reading the diary. But the diary had not been about Southern Shores, and as she continued driving, live oaks and wild vegetation she did not recognize began to cradle the curving road. She was approaching the village of Duck, which sounded quaint and was probably expensive, and interested her not in the least. After Duck, she would pass through a place called Sanderling, and then through a wildlife sanctuary, and soon after that, she should see a sign marking the road to the Kiss River lighthouse. Although she knew she was miles from the lighthouse, she couldn’t help but glance to the sky again and again, hoping to see the tower in the distance through the trees. Even though it was the tallest lighthouse in the country, she knew she could not possibly see it from where she was. That didn’t stop her from looking, though.

She had more time to study the little shopping areas of Duck than she wanted, since the cars and SUVs crept along the road at a near standstill. If the traffic didn’t clear soon, it would be dark by the time she reached Kiss River. She’d hoped to get there no later than five. It was now nearly seven, and the sun was already sinking toward the horizon. Would the lighthouse be closed for the evening? For that matter, would it be open to the public at all? What time did they turn on the light? Maybe they no longer did. That would disappoint her. She wanted to see how it illuminated Kiss River, once every four and a half seconds. If people were allowed to climb the lighthouse, she doubted they would be permitted to visit the lantern room, but she would have to get into that room, one way or another. Only recently, she’d discovered that she was a pretty good liar. She’d lived her entire life valuing honesty and integrity. Suddenly, she’d become manipulative, a master at deceit. She could, when pressed, travel far outside the law. The first time she’d snuck into a fitness club to use the shower on this trip east, she’d trembled with fear, not only at the possibility of being caught, but at the sheer dishonesty of the act. By the time she sauntered into the club in Norfolk, though, she’d almost forgotten she didn’t have a membership at the place. The end justified the means, she told herself.

So, if visiting the lantern room of the lighthouse was not allowed, she would find another way to get up there. That was the entire purpose of this trip. She would talk with someone, one of the guides or docents or whatever they were, and make up a reason for needing to see that room. Research, she would say. She was writing about lighthouses. Or taking pictures. She touched the borrowed camera hanging around her neck. It was heavy, impressive looking. She’d make up something that would sound plausible. One way or another, she needed to see the lantern room and its enormous globe of glass prisms, the Fresnel lens.

The drive through the wildlife reserve seemed to go on forever, but at least the traffic had thinned out, as cars turned onto roads leading to the houses near the beach. The remaining traffic moved briskly and the road was, for the most part, straight. Gina could examine the map easily as she drove. The sign indicating the location of the lighthouse should be somewhere along here, she thought. The road to Kiss River would run off to the right, cutting through the red oaks and loblolly pines, although it was possible that the landscape had changed since the days of the diary. Given the size and newness of many of the houses she had passed, it was possible the trees were completely gone by now and the road lined by more of the touristy homes.

Finally, she spotted a narrow road heading east into the trees. She pulled to the side of the main road, as close to the trees as she dared, and studied her map. There was no street sign, no hint at all that anything special lay down that road, but this had to be it. On the map she could see the way the land jutted out from the road. There was no river at Kiss River. It was little more than a promontory with a whimsical name and a towering lighthouse. Surely that lighthouse was a tourist attraction. So why was there no sign?

She wondered if she should continue driving up the main road to look for another, more promising, turn, but shook her head. The sign must have blown over or been struck by a car. Trusting her map, she turned right onto the road.

Instantly, the road jogged to the left, surrounding her by trees. The macadam was rutted and poorly maintained, and the road twisted its way into near darkness. The air was dusky, the trees so thick that little light could cut through them. Through the open windows, she heard the buzzing of crickets or frogs or some other critter, and the sound grew louder the deeper she drove into the forest.

The road ended abruptly at a small cul-de-sac in the woods. Stopping the car, she turned on the overhead light. The map clearly showed the cul-de-sac, with a smaller road leading from it out to the lighthouse. Looking to her left, she spotted a narrow gravel lane with a heavy, rusty chain strung across its entrance. A sign hanging from the chain read in bold red letters, NO TRESPASSING.

This could not be right, she thought. Even if the lighthouse itself was not open to the public, the grounds surrounding it and the keeper’s house certainly should be.

She checked the map again. There were no other roads like this one, ending in a cul-de-sac. This was it, whether she wanted it to be or not. She looked up at the gravel lane beyond the chain again. The path was foreboding, dark and shrouded by trees.

She did not consider herself a brave person, although these last few months she had found courage in herself she’d had no idea she possessed. Getting slowly out of the car, she locked the door behind her. She did have a flashlight in the trunk, but the batteries had died somewhere in Kentucky, so she carried only her map and the camera around her neck as she walked across the cul-de-sac. One end of the chain was attached to a tree, the other padlocked to a post. Skirting the post, she started walking down the gravel lane.

Even if this was the wrong road, she told herself, what harm could she come to by walking down it? True, she could break an ankle in one of the many ruts or trip over one of the tree roots that raised the gravel in a disorderly veinlike pattern. More likely, though, the worst that could happen was that she’d come to someone’s tucked-away home. She would apologize, ask for directions to the lighthouse. But then she remembered the horses. There were wild horses out here. And wild boars. They could be dangerous, she remembered reading in the diary. She imagined trying to climb one of the stubby trees to escape them. Her heart pounding, she listened hard for the sound of horse hooves or breaking twigs and realized that, this deep into the woods, she could not even hear the traffic. Only the thick, strange buzz of those crickets or whatever they were. It occurred to her that she would have to walk back through these woods again, and it would be even darker by then.

How far had she walked? It couldn’t have been more than a quarter of a mile. Stopping on the road, she peered hard through the trees. The road had looked quite short on the map, and surely she should be able to see the top of the lighthouse by now. She walked a bit farther and heard a whooshing, pounding sound that took her a minute to recognize as the ocean. It sounded close. Very close.

Ahead of her, the road turned slightly to the right. The vegetation was thinner and she could see light between the branches of the trees. Quickening her step, she suddenly broke free of the forest and found herself in a small, sand-swept parking lot. Had this been the visitors’ parking lot for the lighthouse? One thing she knew for certain by now: for whatever reason, the Kiss River light was no longer open to the public.

Through the trees and shrubs surrounding the parking lot, she saw the curved white brick wall of what had to be the lighthouse, and she knew immediately that something was wrong. There was a narrow path cutting through the trees, and branches scratched against her bare arms as she followed it. A few steps later, she stopped, staring in horror at what stood in front of her.

No, she said aloud. Oh, no.

The lighthouse rose high above her, but the top portion of it was missing. The lantern room was gone, and the entire tower could not have been more than three-quarters of its original height. Craning her neck, she could make out several steps of the steel staircase jutting a few yards above the jagged opening at the top of the tower.

She stood numbly, consumed by a distress that went far beyond disappointment. No wonder no one else was out here. It must have been the sea that destroyed the lighthouse, because even now the breaking waves swirled around the base of the tower, and it was apparent from the packed, damp sand beneath her feet that it was not yet high tide. A storm, she thought. This was the work of a damn storm.

Panic rose up inside her. She’d driven all this way. All this way. For nothing. For dashed hopes. Shutting her eyes, she felt dizzy. The sound of the waves cracking against the base of the lighthouse filled her ears, and a spray of salt water stung her face.

As she took a few steps toward the tower, a house came into view thirty or so yards to her left. The keeper’s house. Long ago abandoned, most likely, although she noted the windows were not boarded up and two white Adirondack chairs graced the broad porch. Odd.

She looked up at the tower again, then took off her sandals. Dangling them from her fingertips, she stepped into the shallow water. It was colder than she’d expected, and she caught her breath at the unanticipated chill. The sand sucked at her feet and the water rose nearly to her knees one moment, only to fall to her ankles the next.

She climbed the three concrete stairs leading to the foyer beneath the tower. Despite her disappointment over finding the lighthouse damaged beyond repair, she still felt a thrill at finding herself inside it. She knew this place. Oh, how she knew it! She knew, for example, that there had once been a door at the foyer entrance, although there was no sign of one now. She knew there might be birds inside the tower, and indeed, when she took another step deeper into the foyer, she heard the flapping of wings above her.

She was in the cool air of a circular room. The floor was covered with octagonal black and white tiles, and on the white brick wall across from her, the steel stairs rose at a diagonal. Walking across the room, she dropped her sandals on the floor near the first step and began to climb.

The stairs had a woven texture and she could see straight through them to the purply-gray sky high above her and, as she climbed higher, to the dimly lit floor below. The spiral of stairs gradually narrowed and she quickly grew breathless. She’d never been great with heights, and she hugged the cold, white brick wall as she rested on the landings. Through the wavy glass of the tall, narrow windows at each landing, she could see the keeper’s house. Then she’d return to the stairs, clutching the railing, no longer daring to look down as she climbed higher.

The stairs rose several yards above the opening of the light house, right up into the evening sky. Gina leaned against the brick wall, her heart beating more from fear than from exertion as she contemplated climbing those last few unprotected steps. She could sit on that top step, she thought, and look out at the ocean. Maybe she’d discover the lens was directly below her in the shallow water near the base of the lighthouse.

She forced herself up another step, then another, holding on to the railing with both hands, and when she reached the top step, she turned and gingerly sat down on it. She was above the world here. The ocean was spread out in front of her like a huge, deep-purple rug fringed with white. The thick wall of the lighthouse looked as if it had been chewed off by some huge monster, leaving the jagged edges of the brick behind.

What was she going to do now?

Afraid of losing her balance, she carefully leaned a bit to the left and pulled the small photograph from the rear pocket of her shorts. Pressing it against her knee, she studied the image. A little girl. Much smaller than she should have been for being one year old, her age when the picture was taken. Skin the color of wheat. Very short, jet-black hair. The hugest, darkest eyes. Sad, hopeful eyes.

Gina shut her own eyes, feeling the sting of tears behind the lids. I’ll find a way, sweetheart, she said out loud. I promise.

She sat very still for a long time, watching the last traces of daylight disappear in the sky, her mind only on the child in the picture. She did not think about how she would manage to climb down the spiral staircase in the dusky light, or walk back to her car through those darkening woods, or find a room on a Friday night in a place overrun by tourists.

She must have moved her head just a fraction of an inch to the left, because something caught her eye and made her turn around. And what she saw then stopped her breath in her throat. Every window of the keeper’s house glowed with stained glass.

Chapter Two

CLAY O’NEILL STOPPED HIS JEEP DIRECTLY IN front of the chain. Removing the key he kept attached to his visor, he got out of the car, unlocked the padlock, then dragged the chain to one side of the road. He tried to remember if his sister would be home yet. It was Friday, and Lacey usually attended an Al-Anon meeting on Friday evenings. He would leave the chain open, then. Save her the effort of unlocking it.

Once back in the Jeep, he noticed a car parked on the opposite side of the cul-de-sac. Strange. Someone must have left it there, then hiked through the woods to the beach. He forgot about the car as he turned onto the gravel road, avoiding the familiar ruts and driving very slowly, since he had nearly broken an axle on one of the tree roots a few weeks earlier. He would need to trim some of the branches back one day soon; they scraped the roof of the Jeep as he drove through the tunnel they formed above him.

Emerging from the woods, he could see the keeper’s house, its windows aglow with stained glass. Seeing the house so alive with color in the gray dusk of evening, he understood why Lacey insisted on setting the lights on a timer. She usually beat him home after work and she’d told him she hated coming home to a dark house, but he knew her real reasoning: she loved to see her handiwork glowing from all the windows. He’d argued that it was a huge waste of electricity, but he didn’t argue hard or long. Lacey had done too much for him. He would let her have her lights. He supposed the stained glass comforted her in a way, and although he would never admit it to her, it comforted him as well. Their mother had also been a stained-glass artist. Coming home to those windows was like hearing an old lullaby.

He parked in the inch of sand that covered the corner of the parking lot nearest the house, then got out and opened the rear of the Jeep to retrieve the groceries. It had been his turn to do the shopping, and he had bought thick, mauve-colored tuna steaks to grill for a late dinner, along with a week’s worth of milk and cereal and fruit and some cleaning supplies. The grocery bags were heavy, but he managed to carry all four of them as he made his way across the sand to the house.

Setting the groceries down on the new wooden countertop in the kitchen, he heard Sasha bounding down the stairs. The black Lab ran into the room to greet him, and Clay leaned over to give him a hug.

Hi, boy, he said, scratching the dog’s broad chest. Bet you’d like to go for a walk, huh?

Sasha took two steps toward the door and looked back at his master. Poor neglected dog, Clay thought as he opened the refrigerator door. Just let me get this stuff put away and I’ll be right with you, he said.

The small kitchen was the first room he and Lacey had helped refurbish when they moved into the house six months earlier, right after the first of the year. The room was a small square, with pine cabinets and wood flooring. The original porcelain-topped table sat in the center of the room, surrounded by four oak chairs. The room was inelegant but functional. Elegance was not their goal in this house. Historical accuracy was far more important.

He had finished putting away the groceries and was nearly to the door with Sasha when he happened to look through the kitchen’s rear window. Beneath the wide panel of stained glass hanging from the sash, he could see the lighthouse. The sun was down, the sky a milky gray, but he could still make out the silhouette of the tower, and he looked hard at it. Something was different. Squinting, he leaned closer to the glass. He knew how the tower should look from here. He knew the ragged shape of the rim and the way the spiral staircase rose above it. The line of that staircase was blurred now, and it took him a moment to realize that someone was sitting up there, on the top step, the place he thought of as his own private roost.

Was it Lacey? But no, her car was not in the parking lot. It was a stranger, then. It was so rare to see anyone out here. Tourists had long ago forgotten Kiss River, and the road had been chained off ever since the storm destroyed the lighthouse ten years ago. It was possible to get to the lighthouse by the beach, but difficult, since the water had eroded so much of the sand. By boat, perhaps? His eyes scanned the area in front of the lighthouse for a boat. He didn’t see one, but it was too dark to be sure. Then he remembered the car parked in the cul-de-sac.

Come on, boy, he said, opening the door and stepping onto the porch. He kicked off his sandals, picked up the flashlight from the seat of one of the Adirondack chairs and headed toward the tower. Sasha ran full speed toward the trees at the side of the yard, where he liked to do his business.

It was a woman sitting on the lighthouse stairs, that much he knew for certain. Her long hair rose and fell with the breeze, and she was facing the sea. And looking to break her neck, he thought. Those stairs could be treacherous in the dark if you weren’t used to them. The waves swirling around the base of the lighthouse shone white with froth, and Clay stepped into the chill water, keeping enough distance between himself and the tower that he could still see the woman when he craned his neck to look up.

Hello! he shouted, just as a wave crashed onto the beach.

The woman didn’t turn her head, and he guessed she could not hear him over the sound of the sea.

He cupped his hands around his mouth. Yo! he hollered. Hello!

Sasha came running at the sound of his call, and this time the woman peered over the edge of the tower at him. So high above him, she was very small, her features invisible. If she answered him, he didn’t hear her.

It’s dangerous up there, he called. You’d better come down.

The woman stood up, but Clay instantly changed his mind. It would be too dark inside the tower. Wait there! He held up a hand to tell her to stay. I’ll come up and get you. I have a flashlight.

He told Sasha to stay on the beach, then waded through the water to climb the concrete steps into the foyer. Turning on the flashlight, he saw the familiar, eerie, nighttime look of the stairs and railing against the curved white brick wall. He was used to the stairs and took them easily, without a hint of breathlessness. He made the climb nearly every day, sometimes more than once. The tower was a wonderful escape.

The salt breeze washed across his face as he stepped above the broad, jagged-edged cylinder of bricks. The woman stood up again, backing away a bit, and he thought she might be afraid of him. Understandable. It was dark; she had nowhere to run.

You could trip going down the stairs in the dark, he said quickly, showing her his flashlight.

Oh. Thanks. Her dark hair blew across her face, and she brushed it away with her hand.

She was extraordinarily beautiful. Very slender—too slender, perhaps—with long dark hair and large eyes that looked nearly black in the dim light. There was a fragility about her, as if a good gust of wind could easily blow her from the top of the tower.

As though reading his mind, she lurched a bit, grabbing the railing. He knew how she felt. The stairs held you suspended in the air above the tower, and it was easy to experience vertigo. The first few times he came up here with Terri, he’d actually felt sick. The stairs were solid and sturdy, though. It simply took the inner ear a while to get used to that fact.

Sit down again, he said. We’ll wait till you feel steady on your feet before we go down.

The woman sat down without a word, moving to the edge of the step closest to the railing, which she quickly circled with both her hands. Clay sat one step below her.

What brings you up here? He tipped his head back slightly to look at her, hoping he didn’t sound as if he was accusing her of something. Behind her windblown hair, the sky had turned a thick gray-black. There were no stars. No moon.

Just…I… Her gaze was somewhere above his head, out toward the dark horizon. What happened here? she asked, letting go of the railing with one of her hands, waving it through the air to take in the lighthouse and all of Kiss River. What happened to the lighthouse?

Hurricane, Clay said. More than ten years ago.

Ten years. The woman shook her head. She stared out to sea, and Clay thought her eyes were glistening. She didn’t speak.

I’m Clay O’Neill, he said.

The woman acknowledged him with a brief smile. Gina Higgins. She pointed behind her to the keeper’s house. Has that become a museum or something? she asked.

No. From where he sat, the house looked like a church, its windows filled with color. It was abandoned for many years, he said. Then a conservation group I’m part of took it over. My sister and I are living in it while it’s being restored. We help with the work and act as general contractors, for the most part. The restoration was progressing very slowly, and that was fine with him. There was no target date, no reason to rush.

Gina looked over her shoulder at the house. The stained glass…

It’s my sister’s, he said. She just hung it in the windows while we’re living here. It’s not part of the restoration.

Your sister made it?

Yes.

What a talent, Gina said. It’s beautiful.

He nodded, glancing at the house again. She’s pretty good at it.

And what are the plans for the house when it’s refurbished?

Actually, none, so far, he said. Holding tight to the railing, he stood up to peer over the edge of the tower, hunting for Sasha. He spotted the dog nosing at a pile of seaweed and took his seat again. Possibly a little museum, he said. Possibly a B and B. Maybe even a private residence. The situation is unusual, since the lighthouse is off limits. They aren’t sure they want to draw people out here. I was surprised to see you here, actually. How did you get in?

I walked in from the road, where that chain is. I ignored the No Trespassing sign. She looked beautifully sheepish. Sorry, she said.

It’s off limits because it’s dangerous out here, as you can probably tell, he said. But you haven’t gotten yourself killed, so no big deal. Were you hiking? Exploring? Most people don’t even realize this lighthouse is here anymore.

Oh, I’m an amateur lighthouse historian, Gina said. She touched the camera hanging around her neck. So I was curious to see the Kiss River light and get some pictures of it. Where is the rest of it? Where is the Fresnel lens?

She pronounced the word FREZnal instead of FraNELL. Odd for a lighthouse historian. But she’d said she was an amateur; she had probably seen the word in writing but had never heard it spoken before.

The Fresnel lens is somewhere at the bottom of the ocean, he said, diplomatically using the correct pronunciation, and even in the darkness, he could see coins of color form on her cheeks.

Why didn’t they raise it? she asked. It’s very valuable, isn’t it?

He nodded. Yes, but there was a lot of opposition to raising the lens, he said. His own father, once an advocate for saving the lighthouse, had led the fight against finding the lens. The travel bureau and the lighthouse society wanted it raised, but the locals tend to think that things should remain right where nature puts them. And, as you can imagine, they’re also not keen on bringing even more tourists to the area as it is. Besides, who knows? The lens could be in a thousand pieces down there.

But it also could be in one piece, or in just a few pieces that could be put back together, she argued, and he knew she had a feisty side to her. I think it’s a crime to leave something that’s historically valuable on the bottom of the sea. It should be displayed in a museum somewhere.

He shrugged. He didn’t really care about the lens. Never thought about it, actually. In the great scheme of things, it did not seem worth getting upset over.

It was a first-order lens, wasn’t it? Gina asked.

Yes. It’s three tons, at least. Whether it’s in one piece or a hundred, it would be a job to bring it out. Once they got the thing up, it would probably have to spend months in an electrolyte bath so the metal parts didn’t disintegrate in the air.

No, it wouldn’t, she said. The metal parts are brass, aren’t they? Brass wouldn’t need an electrolyte bath.

She was right, and he was wrong. And also a little impressed.

And if it’s three tons, she continued, it couldn’t have drifted too far from the lighthouse, then, could it?

He looked out toward the black cavern of the sea. Long ago, he and Terri would drive up here to Kiss River and sit on these stairs at low tide, trying to spot the lens, expecting to see it jutting out of the water. They never were able to spot it. It was an unbelievable storm, he said. And there have been a few just as bad since then. The coastline’s really changed here. Before that storm, the water was never up this high. It’s washed away the beach. By now the lens could be just about any—

Hey!

The shout came from the beach, slipping past Clay’s ears on the breeze. Leaning over, he saw a flashlight far below them.

Hey, Lace! he called back. We’ll be down in a sec.

Turning to Gina, he stood up. That’s my sister, he said. Are you ready to go down?

She nodded. He held his hand out to her as she stood up, but she didn’t take it. Leading the way down the staircase, he kept his flashlight turned backward a bit to light the stairs for her. Watch your step, he warned. It’s not as easy in the dark.

He moved slowly, aware that Gina had a death grip on the railing behind him, and it was a while before they exited through the tiled foyer. The waves washed over their feet and legs once they’d descended the three concrete steps into the water. Sasha bounded toward them, splashing their arms and faces as they waded to the dry sand where Lacey stood.

Gina nearly ignored Lacey as she squatted low to the ground to pet Sasha, and Clay’s opinion of the woman instantly rose a few notches. Sasha rolled in the sand, exposing his stomach to the stranger, and Gina obliged by rubbing his belly.

That’s Sasha, Clay said. And this is my sister, Lacey. Lacey, this is Gina…? He couldn’t recall her last name.

Higgins. Gina stood up, wiping her sandy hand on her shorts before extending it to Lacey.

Are you a friend of Clay’s? Lacey asked as she shook Gina’s hand, and Clay heard the hope in her voice. His sister would love nothing better than for him to have a new woman in his life.

Gina smiled at her. No, she said with a slight laugh. I’m a trespasser, actually. I was up on the lighthouse when it got dark and your brother rescued me. That’s all.

Really? Lacey raised her eyebrows at him.

She came in from the road, he explained.

I walked around the chain, Gina said. I’m sorry. I just wanted to see—

No big deal, Lacey said, waving her unlit flashlight through the air. Her long red hair was tied back against the breeze, and her fair skin glowed white in the darkness. We don’t own this place. She glanced from Gina to Clay and back again, and he could almost see what she was thinking. Right age, very attractive, perfect for Clay. Are you here on vacation with your family? she asked. Or with a bunch of girlfriends? Clay nearly groaned at her transparent probing. Why didn’t she just come right out and ask the woman if she was available to be fixed up with her pathetic brother?

I’m alone, Gina said. Just here for a few days.

She’s a lighthouse historian, Clay said.

Amateur, Gina added, glancing away from him. She was probably still embarrassed over her pronunciation of Fresnel.

Well, listen. Lacey swatted a mosquito that had landed on her bare shoulder. Have you eaten? Would you like to stay for dinner?

Oh, no, Gina protested.

We know absolutely every minute detail there is to know about the lighthouse, Lacey coaxed. We can tell you everything. He knew his sister would not take no for an answer. He understood how her mind worked. It wasn’t so much that she was hoping to fix Gina up with him, or that she was eager to tell her stories about the lighthouse. It was that she couldn’t bear to think of anyone being alone.

I bought plenty of fresh tuna for dinner, so you might as well stay, Clay said, surprising himself as well as Lacey. Then one of us can drive you back out to your car. The truth was, he didn’t want her to go, either. He wanted to see her in the good light of the kitchen. He wanted to find flaws in that perfect face.

Gina looked down at Sasha, who was leaning against her thigh. She scratched the dog behind his ears.

All right, she said. That’s so nice of you. I have to admit, I was a little nervous about walking back through those woods, with the wild horses and pigs and all.

He and Lacey stared at her, then started to laugh.

Wild pigs? Lacey asked.

I’d heard there were wild pigs, Gina said. Boars, I mean.

A long, long time ago, Clay said, wondering where she’d received that

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Cosa pensano gli utenti di Kiss River

4.1
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  • (4/5)
    When I heard this book was the sequel to Keeper of the Light, I was kind of worried. I’m one of those people who do everything to the nth degree. What would I be missing if I started at book two of this trilogy? (There’s a subsequent sequel, Her Mother’s Shadow).I found I could rest at ease – Kiss River sums up succinctly the relevant events of the first book, but I don’t think you’d be disadvantaged if you went back and read the first book later. There’s nothing to be scratching your head about because this book stands alone very well.Kiss River tells the tale of a lighthouse that fell into the sea years ago. Now Gina has crossed the country, wanting to look at the lens. She describes herself as a keen amateur lighthouse historian, but there are a lot of holes in her story. Why isn’t she telling the truth? Gina becomes friends with Lacey and Clay who live at the lighthouse keeper’s house but there’s things she’s not telling them. There’s also a second narrative set at the lighthouse during World War II – what role does teenage Elizabeth play in Gina’s story?I enjoyed this book, not only because I’m a fan of dual narratives with a bit of history. This book really had a gentle, caring pace and characters that I cared about. Gina’s secret was sensitively played, as was Clay’s past. I thought it was also a strong idea of Chamberlain’s to portray Lacey with some faults that aren’t usually discussed in general. As the cover states, if you enjoy Jodi Picoult, you would like this. Chamberlain is not as brutal on her character’s fates though, nor is the ending so final. The ending of Kiss River is slightly complex, but it’s actually plausible – not to mention gripping. I simply couldn’t put this book down once I began to understand how all the stories linked. There is romance, but it’s a small subplot – the focus here is having people you can depend on, no matter what. Even though this is the second book in a trilogy, there are no cliff-hangers that force you to read the second book.The cover is somewhat misleading as I can’t recall any children of that age playing a large role. I think a picture of the broken lighthouse would have been more effective or a woman near a lighthouse…you get the idea. Another thing to keep in mind is that this was published in 2003, so the internet portrayed appears to be dial-up and none of the characters own a smart phone. Strangely, they communicate face to face!A lovely read that will restore your faith in others.Thank you to Harlequin Australia for the copy.
  • (5/5)
    by Diane ChamberlainI already love this book, about a lighthouse and a clue in the diary and the outer banks.Bess's diary is written while she is a girl living in the lighthouse keeper cottage on the East Coast, Outer Banks of NC during the WW2 and the German boats are nearby blowing up US vessels and she sees them out her window.Present day she is there and the residents of the house ask her, Ginny Higgins to stay for a night which she does and it brings back all the memories of what's written in the diary. She can picture the room without ever having seen it, it's that familiar. And she's on the hunt of the light of the lighthouse that was destroyed in the hurricane and the light is at the bottom of the ocean. She can't figure out why the authorities never went to get it, but left the light in the water all this time. She will track downLacey and Clay's father and ask him as he's from around that time it happened. She recalls from the diary all the talk of the prisms. I remember being so fascinated with the way the light shone through a prism I was given once.Love the talk about the stain glass windows in the many times that they appear, sound so pretty and it's a great art form.Mysteries about Clay's wife passing away, his father and why now he is not interested in the lens and Gina has secrets of her own as well.This makes for not only a good mystery read but romance as things are told and you can piece the puzzle together til the whole story comes out and how the past is connected to the present...Love hearing about all the research about the light, the fly over and if they think they will be able to find it. Even if they do there are still others who won't allow it to be raised.There are other personal things going on in their lives that they tend to keep to themselves.Love the lesson the family gets when they look up at the stars...Love that this is a book in a series and can't wait to read the next one..
  • (3/5)
    I'd read nine of Diane Chamberlain's books before picking up Kiss River, and I had really enjoyed all nine. They've been very entertaining blends of suspense and character development, or moral issues and character development. But Kiss River was kind of a disappointment for me.Kiss River is first and foremost a romance novel, which is really not my thing. There is a mystery element, but it doesn't make a lot of sense. A woman, Gina, drives across the entire US to check out a lighthouse, hoping to find a clue mentioned in an old diary. Gina didn't even verify that the lighthouse still exists before setting off thousands of miles to see it. And if she does find the clue, there is only a very slim chance that it would benefit her. And she could have simply made a phone call to ask the historical society or whoever if the clue exists. But if Gina didn't drive to the east coast to see the lighthouse in person, she would not have met her hunky lighthouse guy. And the romance really is the main point of the novel.My favorite parts of Kiss River were the sections from the old diary Gina had found. It was the diary of a teenage girl, and her sometimes awkward experiences with the local boys, and some wartime intrigue.Disclosure: I received a pre-release electronic version of this book in exchange for an honest review.
  • (3/5)
    Gina Higgins is desperate to save her daughter. To do this she has to race across the country to find the lighthouse at Kiss River.My Thoughts:This is the second book out of three about the characters who live in Kiss River. Normally I like to read books in order but did feel that it didn't really make much difference. However there where snippets to the previous book which has given me enough to want to read it. The third book in the set also looks as if it will be a good read.This book I found ok and with enough for me to keep going. I did find it quite flawed in places and I have to say quite silly. I did find Gina's reason why she needed the lighthouse lens rather silly. However my favourite part of the book was the journal of Bess which I found to be quite fun to read and have to say the best part of the book.Overall a ok read but I felt was silly in places but I still enjoyed the book as it was a comfort read and not too taxing.
  • (5/5)
    I loved this second book in the Kiss River series as a sequel to the much loved characters in Keeper of the Light. Diane Chamberlain is one of my favorite authors with a wild imagination, taking readers far beyond the norm for page turners you will not want to put down -- twists, turns, and plots which keep you engaged from the beginning to the end!

    Being a native of NC, always love the setting and especially the Outer Banks area and the subject of lighthouses - fascinating along with history of generations past… and WOW…the diary…Amazing!

    This book introduces a new character coming from the Pacific Northwest in search of the Kiss River Lighthouse, a diary from her grandmother, and secrets from the past she desires in order to help her with her future. The wonderful characters from the first book-Lacy, Clay, Olivia, Alec are of course the center of the book. After more than 10 yrs. has passed since the hurricane which caused the upper half of the Kiss River Lighthouse to tumble into the ocean.

    Setting the stage for this stranger, Gina to find hope in the past and the rebuilding of the future with a new family along the way and secrets to uncover. Another 5 Stars A must read series – (I have already purchased Nook Book-the third in the series “Her Mother’s Shadow”) which I cannot wait to start this evening!
  • (3/5)
    Kiss River is the sequel to Keeper of the Light and had big shoes to fill. At first I found it hard to warm to Gina (the main character) but as the story unfolded she became more likable. The tragedy of a lighthouse toppling into the sea still grabs me.
  • (4/5)
    This was the second in the series. Lacey follows in her mother's footsteps by sleeping around. Clay, her brother has feelings for the boarder they took in, but is reluctant to show his feelings because he is newly widowed. Gina Higgins, the boarder has many secrets, among them the real reason she came to the Outter Banks and why she wants to raise the light from the lighthouse.
  • (4/5)
    I just started reading the books written by this author and like them very much. She writes about interesting topics, history and time periods and the lives of the people in them. Good stories that are interesting and keep me wanting to read more.
  • (4/5)
    I have expected different ending though...nice story but not my favorite one